A lost art form in professional wrestling is the art of playing a heel. A babyface hero is only as good as the bad guy they are feuding with. Nowadays, it is not so easy to produce a villain who is genuinely hated by the fans. In an age where the fans cheer the bad guys and boo the good guys, it is extremely hard for any wrestling company, yet alone WWE, to produce an antagonistic character that can actually be entertaining while also drawing huge heat from the audience. As much as this is a difficult art for a wrestler to master, there are a selected few who have done a great job with perfecting that art. Almost too great of a job.
There are some heels in this business who play their dastardly role so well to a tee that some fans make the mistake of thinking that the real men and women behind those characters are just like their characters in real life. While it is true that some of the best wrestling characters are those that are exaggerated version of their real life personas, but if some of today's heels were half as diabolical as their characters would suggest, they would be in jail. It just so happens that some of these great heels are just really great actors. Acting is an essential skill that comes with being a pro wrestler and if somebody is going to successful inspire an entire crowd of people to boo them, then heels have to be the best actors in their professions. Thanks to their Slammy worthy performances as heels inside the ring, we tend to forget that a lot of the wrestlers who play rotten villains are actually nice sweethearts in real life. Here are just a few examples.
16 The Miz
The Miz has always been notorious for having an extremely punchable face. That's what makes him such a good heel. Not only is he great at playing an obnoxious character, he has a face that makes you want to hate him. Which is kind of ironic considering the real Mike Mizanin is hard not to take a liking to. There is a reason why WWE like to use the guy so often when it comes to big publicity events (charities, anti-bullying campaigns, etc.) Anyone who has met him can tell you he is the total opposite of his character. Knowing his long road to the wrestling business, it's easy to believe. While his face may scream "entitled douchebag," he's often been praised as one of the most humble guys on the current roster and he earned everything he has now. He went from getting kicked out of the WWE locker room as a rookie by Chris Benoit over a misunderstanding about chicken to main eventing WrestleMania. In the past 10 years, The Miz has maintained a successful career as one of WWE's most hated bad guys. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
15 Luke Harper
Luke Harper has one of those faces that only a mother could love. Luke Harper is one of the last faces you would ever want to run into while walking down a dark alley. His scary face, caveman demeanor, and the wicked acts he committed alongside The Wyatt Family all make Luke Harper one scary dude. Whether you believe Harper is really similar to his character or not, he has such a creepy presence to him that we can't blame you if you're too afraid to approach him if you see him in the street. Fear not, true believers, as Harper is not the neanderthal that so many people peg him to be. He's actually surprisingly well mannered, well groomed, and well articulated as a regular guy outside the ring. In interviews, he comes off as kind and well spoken when praising his peers and many of his fellow workers praise Harper as one of the best big men to work with in the wrestling ring. Some would call him today's best big man.
14 Summer Rae
For the better part of the last year or so, Summer Rae has gone unused in major Womens Division storylines and has pretty much been non-existent on WWE television. Even before sustaining her current injury, WWE stopped using her in any significant roles, apart from jobber roles in matches. Now, many fans in the WWE Universe have been pushing on social media for WWE to bring back Summer Rae. Once upon a time, fans didn't care too much about Summer Rae and dismissed her as another person in a sea of many playing the jerky heel archetype. Things changed during a 2015 episode of WWE's hidden camera prank series, Swerved, where an old lady desperately needed to go to the bathroom and Summer Rae was the most patient tending to the lady's needs. It gave fans a glimpse into how much kind of a person Summer Rae can be in real life and a far cry from the jerk she plays on tv.
13 Samoa Joe
If anyone were to judge Samoa Joe by the character he plays down in NXT, it would be easy to think he was just another jerk in the wrestling business. The way he demolishes his opponents before and after matches and the way that he disrespects legends like William Regal on a weekly basis gives the impression that he has a rather nasty attitude. Like he's as much of a people person as Brock Lesnar is. Given that Lesnar moved all the way to Saskatchewan to get away from people, that sentence is pretty self-explanatory. Thankfully, Joe isn't anywhere near as anti-social or jerky in real life. In fact, he's immensely different from his jerky character. While the Samoan Submission Machine can't wait to tear down rookie hopefuls every week on NXT, the real Joe has been praised in real life by his fellow workers as a locker room leader. Whenever a young rookie has a question or two about the business or their in-ring work, the veteran Joe is happy to give fundamental advice and help young guns elevate their growing careers.
12 Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie McMahon has spent the last few years on WWE television as a villainous authority figure. She had drawn the ire of fans by slapping their favorite superstars, screwing guys like Daniel Bryan out of big opportunities, and making deliberate attempts to annoy the crowd. The real Stephanie McMahon behind the character is not anywhere near as nasty as how she comes across on tv. She has played an active role in numerous charities over the years and continues to assist the WWE in running day to day operations regarding their Anti Bullying Campaign. She is also a strong supporter in the Connor's Cure organization, which works hard towards researching pediatric cancer, ever since so many WWE employees were touched by the resilient of 8 year old cancer patient, Connor Michalek. It's easy to dismiss these acts of generosity as business PR moves, but anyone who has met Stephanie McMahon can vouch for how she's just as generous in person as her kind acts suggest.
11 Ted Dibiase
There was probably never anyone who was more conniving, snivelling, and sneaky as a wrestling villain than The Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase. He made a career out of buying his way into the main event and literally lying, cheating, and stealing his way to victories. Most infamously, immediately after Andre the Giant defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship on the February 5th, 1988 edition of The Main Event, Dibiase came to the ring and bought off Andre the Giant to make the Eighth Wonder of the World hand him the WWF Championship. While this title reign isn't currently acknowledged by WWE as Dibiase was stripped of the belt shortly after, it goes to show the underhanded tactics The Million Dollar Man was known for. Beyond the gimmick, Dibiase is a well respected and gracious Christian minister. Whether he was always a sweet man behind the scenes or if religion helped change him doesn't matter. What matters is that Ted Dibiase's role as a minister is much more civil than his roles as a wrestler.
10 Big Show
Big Show may be the most hated character on the WWE roster right now. By most hated, I mean genuinely hated. Crowds boo the moment they hear that "Welllllllllllllllllllllllll...." from his entrance theme. People change the channel as soon as they see The World's Largest Athlete peep his head out from the curtain. It's not even like there is anything wrong with The Big Show. It's just that after over 20 years in the business, fans have gotten bored enough of Big Show's schtick that he's obtained a special kind of go away heat. People have hated on Big Show for so long that they forget that Paul Wight is a nice guy in real life. We've seen Big Show constantly switch back and forth from heel to face over the years, but more often than not, he's spent his career as a brutish heel. In actuality, he's very nice when it comes to making time for fans and especially supporting troops. He's easy to warm up to and if you're not a fan of his character, the man himself will easily win you over with his surprising sense of humor.
9 Triple H
Triple H gets a bad rep for being the king of burying superstars. While it may be true that his ego has gotten in the way of plenty of superstar's pushes, that doesn't take away from the nice things that he has done in and out of the ring. Yes, he has a bad habit of not laying down for wrestler's as often as he should, but it means even more when he does lay down for someone. For just one example, it made Daniel Bryan's Mania win all the more memorable to see him topple someone whose known to be handy with a shovel. Even out of the ring, Hunter couldn't be nicer to his fans. More famously during a dark match a couple years ago, he broke character to tend to a crying child. Or when he let child cancer patient, Connor "The Crusher" Michalek, pin him in the ring for his first and only wrestling victory. You can't tell me that doesn't warm your heart a little bit. Let's not forget that he's also been nice enough to provide opportunities for some of the best indie talents the world has to offer. Trips could easily share the same negative mentality against "small guys" as Vince does, but Trips gave us the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament to showcase wrestlers who are 205lbs and under. Through his developmental program, Triple H has provided a platform for some of the best wrestlers in the world who wouldn't get such opportunities if not for Triple H's graciousness.
8 Bray Wyatt
As The Eater of Worlds, Bray Wyatt is one of the most menacing and otherworldly characters currently on the WWE roster. When he's out of the ring and just going by his day as Windham Rotunda, he's astonishingly down to Earth. He's easy to talk to no matter who you are. Even more amazingly, despite playing a character infamous for his incessant on-screen ramblings, he is actually easy to understand in real life. Who would have guessed it? In interviews, he appears to be incredibly honest with where he sits on the WWE ladder and even when he admits to disagreeing with his bookings, he never points a bad finger at Vince McMahon or the creative staff. He just remains optimistic about his WWE future. No wonder he's remained in WWE's good graces for so long. Outside of interviews, when approached by fans, he's also very easy to strike up a conversation with and open to pictures with anyone.
7 Kevin Owens
It's fascinating to see the complete shift in attitude from Kevin Owens' WWE interviews compared to his shoot interviews. When he's cutting a promo for WWE or when he's talking trash in the ring, Owens could not be more of a brash, cocky, arrogant, rude individual. When you see him in interviews out of character, he's much calmer and respectful. His sarcastic sense of humor still shines through, but opposite to the hothead that he plays on tv, Kevin Owens (real name Steen) seems like a fun guy to be around. The same can be said if one were to check out his online talk show form his pre-WWE days, The Kevin Steen Show. Even outside of these interviews, the guy could not be nicer to the fans who approach him in the street. As long as you approach him respectfully, he will be happy to take a picture or offer you a chat.
Edge remained infamous throughout his WWE career as The Rated R Superstar. His heinous actions in the ring earned him the nickname. As a bad guy, Edge has done it all in WWE. Attack John Cena's dad, speared women, cheated his way to the top, and even had himself a live sex celebration. Despite playing one of the most vile villains in WWE history, Adam Copeland is actually pretty nice in real life. While he was always a wrestler that fans found it easy to hate, the guy has never had a bad encounter with a fan. No one has ever alleged having an unpleasant encounter with the man and interviews, his demeanor seems completely different from the character he plays. While Edge always came off as someone overly brash and arrogant, Copeland seems like a pretty chill guy to say the least. He always has high praise for everyone he's ever worked with in the business and is immensely grateful for the fanbase he's developed over the years.
Over the course of his nearly 20 year run as Kane, we've seen The Big Red Machine set people on fire, cripple defenseless bystanders, and attempt to murder numerous WWE superstars. Needless to say, the character can be a bit of a jerk sometimes and that is a huge understatement. His real life persona of Glenn Jacobs, on the other hand, is anything but a jerk. A plethora of fans have shared their pleasant encounters and experiences with Kane in the past. In addition to being an incredibly nice guy, he's actually surprisingly well versed in politics. There was a time he spent a remarkable amount of time with the Libertarian Party, but back in May, he said in an interview that he's seriously considering running as a Republican candidate for the Knox county mayoral seat in 2018. Kane is actually much smarter and nicer than one would expect coming from a guy who was once alleged to have burned his parents alive.
In the Attitude Era, Ivory may be best remembered as the shrieking siren of a woman from the Right to Censor stable. Like all the members in this villainous faction, Ivory was a conservative blowhard in the vein of your average Republican candidate. Her finest hour came during her feud with Chyna over the 9th Wonder's Playboy cover. Ivory drew massive heat for deliberately breaking Chyna's neck in storyline. Ivory came off on television as someone who was mean to her very bone. Surprisingly, in real life, Lisa Moretti is one of the nicest people anyone could ever come across. No matter when or where you see her, she is all smiles from ear to ear. Since retiring from the business, no has ever said a bad word about her and she's never said a bad word about anyone. Well, except JBL, but only for being a big bully. Which, let's face it, JBL is a big bully. Moretti, on the other hand, is a ray of sunshine and her bright demeanor has been highlighted in shoot interviews. She currently volunteers at a local animal shelter and even opened her own animal care and grooming facility called Downtown Dog.
3 The Rock
The fact that Dwayne Johnson is a nice guy has been well documented in the past and should come as a surprise to no one. Still, fans familiar with his wrestling persona of The Rock find it a little polarizing to think that the guy who came off as a cocky jock on tv could be such a sweetheart in real life. It seems like he always finds time to stop whatever he's doing (even if he's driving or working out) to spend time with a fan who desperately wants to talk to him. For a star as big and busy as he is these days, that means a lot. Both fans and the actors he's worked with have praised Johnson as someone who is disarmingly nice for someone in Hollywood. This is the same guy who some wrestling fans claim to have buried several wrestlers on the mic. This is also the same guy who took time out of his busy day to officiate the wedding of one of his biggest fans, Nick Mundy, when he didn't have to. You would think that he'd have an ego by now as the highest paid actor in Hollywood and that ego coupled with his in-ring personality would make him a massive jerk, but no. He's remained incredibly humble after all these years.
2 Charlotte Flair
In an interview, Charlotte Flair once said that it's easier for her to play a character that acts the way that fans thinks she acts like in real life instead of playing a character similar to who she exactly is in real life. That statement could not be more ironic. Upon making her main roster debut, Charlotte Flair struggled to connect with crowds as she played a vanilla, super nice and righteous babyface. It wasn't until she adopted her father's Dirtiest Player in the Game mantra that she started to gain popularity. While she comes off as entitled, cowardly, and heelish on television, the real Charlotte Flair is anything but. Backstage figureheads have praised Charlotte Flair as a humble worker who is easy to work with and willing to hear feedback from all angles. Fans have also recognized Charlotte as someone who is always nice enough to stop whatever she is doing to spend time with fans to chat or sign autographs.
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